Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Reactions to Poverty

Unpacking the Trip – Part 8

It has been awhile since I have written about our trip to Ethiopia, but I still think of it often. Just last weekend I was in a conversation with someone about our adoption and it drifted to what the current conditions are like for many Ethiopians. After hearing a little about life there, the person said, "Gee, I don't think I will get so upset next time I miss my tee time."

This type of reaction resonates with me. Having Ethiopian children in my home serves as a 24/7 reality check. Sometimes I want to escape "keeping things in perspective" and indulge myself in American excess, get unduly upset about the trivial, or think that for some reason life owes me more. But I can't escape my perspective-setting kids. And I am the better for it.

While we were in Ethiopia we stayed at a guest house along with a veteran missionary couple. They spoke Amharic fluently, had spent many years in the country, and viewed retirement as a great opportunity to provide water in Ethiopia, both by building wells and by sharing Christ.

One evening, Ray was sharing with me the common reactions he has seen when people encounter total poverty. "Why hasn't somebody done something?" some exclaim. Others look straight ahead as they navigate the streets in their SUVs with the windows up and the A/C on. And for some, it is simply too much to bear. These common reactions, whether anger, depression, denial, or even a breakdown, are not usually productive.

Ray thinks the proper response is to come to terms with the poverty and decide what role you should play in being a part of the solution. One should say, "I am yours God. Use me as you please." This is what Ray and his wife have done.

And so I am looking, waiting, thinking. Adoption seems to be just part of my role and the rest is still just out of sight for me. When it comes into view, I pray I will have the strength to say, "I am yours God. Use me as you please."

1 comment:

Sophie said...

Isaiah's response of "Here I am. Send me!" has been very inspiring for me. I hope that I can be even a little bit as willing to GO as he was. Keep up the good work :)